Tuesday, November 13 , 2018, 12:51 pm | Fair 71º

 
 
 
 

Revision of Rule 321 an Effort to Resolve Solvent Use Concerns

A community workshop generates public input as the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District addresses industrial cleaning.

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District held a public workshop earlier this month to discuss a possible revision of the established Rule 321, which addresses solvent use for degreasing and cleaning within industrial settings. 

“The revision primarily addresses cleaning processes from which we know water-based solvents are much lower-polluting,” said Tom Murphy, manager of the Technology and Environmental Assessment Division at the APCD. 

The scoping meeting was held to hear public comment, which Murphy says will be taken into account in proposing an eventual draft rule to the APCD board of directors. 

One issue that stood out was the possible restriction of isopropyl alcohol to clean equipment, or as Tom Banigan, board vice chairman of the Santa Barbara Technology and Industry Association, called it, “criminalizing the use of rubbing alcohol.” 

Banigan, who also serves on the APCD Community Advisory Council, says Rule 321 doesn’t need more restriction within its existing compliant businesses, but rather needs to include certain businesses that are exempt from it.

“They aren’t saying you can only use 55 gallons per year, or dispose of it in this way,” he said. “They are saying categorically you can’t use (IPA).”

Murphy said that while the IPA issue is a big subset of the rule, no decisions have been made as to how its use will be affected.

“At the workshop, it was clear to me that the SBTIA is concerned about future regulation of IPA,” Murphy said. “They are concerned that they have limits on their use of IPA while hospitals are exempt. But there has not been a final decision.”

The APCD works on achieving air quality standards, primarily focusing on ozone, or smog. Ozone is formed when oxide and nitrogen react with organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.

Santa Barbara County, Murphy said, has been out of compliance with state standards on ozone level for many years.

“The end result,” he said, “is that the solvents being used by businesses will be less reactive, meaning they will have less reactive compound.”

Rule 321 already controls solvent use, including limitations on IPA; however, it leaves certain industries excused from compliance, including many medical facilities.

“The use of IPA specifically in hospitals is just needed for sterilization,” Murphy said. “We at the district generally regulate emitting devices and processes, but we don’t see hospitals to fall into those categories,” said Murphy. .”

To Banigan, who works as vice president of regulatory compliance at Nusil Silcone Technology, avoiding regulation of hospitals and other medical facilities is an issue of political charge.

“It’s the third rail,” he said. “(APCD is saying) we’re regulating you guys because we can while giving the public the impression that business is the main source (of solvent use). It’s my opinion that these other (exempt) sources are the greater sources, and they aren’t even mentioned.”

In response to the idea that exempt solvent users are responsible for the most actual use, Murphy said that the APCD is still investigating emission sources. “This rule was not intended to limit IPA. It was intended to limit other reactive compounds that are used in other solvents,” he said.

Another platform brought focus to commercial oil rigs, which often use quickly vaporizing solvents such as IPA for cleaning purposes to reduce water runoff into the ocean. It was suggested that using a more water-based solvent could result in breaching water discharge limits. 

Murphy said he asked that the concern be put in writing and that it will be considered.

The input from the public, he said, was exactly what the APCD was expecting and hoping for during the workshop. “We are going to take the input we got and do our best to satisfy our mission and understand other people’s positions,” he said.

“We have heard Tom (Banigan’s) comments and will definitely be working on a draft.”

Once the public draft is released, the APCD plans to either conduct another public workshop or a joint workshop-advisory council meeting.

Noozhawk intern Mollie Helmuth can be reached at [email protected]

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.